The New Mexico Child Support Guidelines were put in place to ensure uniformity in child support awards, make sure all parties in divorce actions are treated equitably and to improve the efficiency of the court process. Given the goal of the guidelines, New Mexico courts will rarely deviate from the guidelines when imposing a child support award.
Despite the attempt at fairness, the child support obligations can often be extremely burdensome on the party paying support. This is especially true in today's uncertain economy. In such cases, a party may ask the Court to deviate from the guidelines. Any child support order that deviates from the guidelines must include a statement of why the order deviates from the guidelines. A party seeking such a deviation must show good cause why the child support imposed by the guidelines is inappropriate. The question then becomes, what constitutes good cause?
The guidelines themselves provide that if the support calculated pursuant to the guidelines requires a party to pay more than forty (40) percent of their income in child support for a single child, then there shall be a presumption of substantial hardship, which, in turn, will justify a deviation from the guidelines. Another reason for deviation from the guidelines could be that one party to a divorce action has assumed a substantially larger portion of the community debt and may be relieved of paying the full child support obligation until the community debt is satisfied.
However, the answer to what constitutes good cause to will often vary depending on the judge or hearing officer ruling in the case. Thus, a party faced with a child support obligation that they think is unfair or unduly burdensome should consult an experienced New Mexico child support attorney immediately in order to evaluate whether they have a reasonable claim for deviation from the guidelines.